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Art brings hope and healing

It happened more than 30 years ago, but it’s something that has impacted Alden resident Linda Skinner every day since.

“I was with my daughter and a friend, putting things in a pickup, when the topper blew up and hit me in the head, causing a concussion and damaging both of my eyes. It took doctors a while to figure out what was going on with my eyes. Eventually, they sent me up to the junior college to see if some art therapy might help strengthen my eyes. I had extreme eye fatigue, within a few seconds, rather than in a few minutes. And my eyes were switching dominance, causing dizziness and difficulty doing daily tasks. So I took drawing and painting classes, and noticed that when I wasn’t doing them regularly, my eyes would get worse. Through this process, we also discovered that I’m partially color blind, so I took color therapy classes, too,” said Linda.

While her artistic journey started differently than most, the pleasure, peace and health benefits are similar to what a lot of artists experience.

“My paintings don’t have that much depth, and my instructors have told me I paint more in the Japanese style because of my color blindness. I’m actually better at drawing but don’t like it as much. My art teacher worked with my eye doctor and we discovered that pink glasses bring in some coors I don’t see, and that helps. I also have a prism in my glasses that holds my eyes in place, or one swings up and one swings down.”

In spite of all the challenges with her vision she’s endured, Linda continues to find joy through art, and recently won an award for “best amateur painting” Sterling Presbyterian Manor’s Art is Ageless program.

“I was so shocked when I actually won something! I enjoy art. It heals something inside me. Playing with it just for yourself does a lot of good, even if nobody else sees it. I do enjoy the Art is Ageless program. I’ve been doing it since 2014, after seeing a flyer at the Manor. I was bringing my mom there for physical therapy.”

Linda lives with her mother, who just turned 99, and enjoys spending time with her family, which includes a son and daughter, four granddaughters and two great grandsons. Her grandchildren enjoy painting with her occasionally, and a creative streak runs in her family.

“One of my grandmothers used to do art for Hallmark Cards. She would do a painting and send it in. If they accepted it for one of their cards, they sent her money for it. And my mom’s grandfather did a lot of art, and corresponded with people around the world.”

Congratulations to Linda, and all participants, on their Art is Ageless endeavors!

“Art keeps me going. It’s the joy of being able to participate. I love talking to the other artists to see what they're doing.”

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